HorrorAddicts.net was invited to an exclusive party where our correspondent was given a tour of the ship and the most haunted room! He shares his experience with us below.
The Haunting of the Queen Mary
by Dario Ciriello
It’s not hard to believe the Queen Mary, once-proud flagship of the legendary Cunard line, is haunted. What’s impossible to believe is that it’s not haunted.
A fifth of a mile from bow to stern, held together by over ten million rivets, this eighty-three-year-old vessel slaps you with its living soul before you even set foot on its wide decks.
Once aboard, the first thing you notice is a subtle sense of imbalance; she sags slightly in the middle, and the closer you get to the bow or stern, the more pronounced the effect. The art deco elegance — acres of polished birdseye maple paneling, brass fittings, and long, empty passageways flanking the cabins and staterooms — belongs to the past, not the present. The sense of history is palpable.
And of course this grand old lady has seen its share of tragedy.
In 1942, during its wartime incarnation as a troop ship, the Queen Mary collided with the British cruiser Curacoa, slicing it in two “like a piece of butter, straight through its six-inch armor plating,” according to one eyewitness. The cruiser’s boiler rooms exploded and 339 sailors died. It’s rumored that some of the bodies were later found inside the damaged bows of the Queen Mary. An unknown numbers of prisoners of war, along with allied wounded, are thought to have died on board, many from heatstroke during its passage through the Red Sea.
In 1966, just a year before the ship was retired, John Pedder, an eighteen-year-old engineer, was crushed to death in one of the ship’s watertight doors — watertight door number thirteen. Since then he’s been seen many times, usually with a wrench in his hand.
And of course some deaths go unrecorded. Perhaps this explains the many sightings of a woman often seen in the first-class swimming pool, where it’s possible she drowned. Also reported there are occasional wet footprints that end abruptly. This in a swimming pool that was drained twenty-six years ago.
Resident paranormal investigator Matthew Schultz led my group down a narrow steel gangway suspended in the eerie, unlit cavern of the ship’s boiler rooms to the so-called “safe room”1 where he conducts part of his research. Matthew explained that since spirits are thought to communicate via energy, many of the instruments used in his research — a number of them were arrayed on a table before us — measure energy spikes and anomalies. Time after time, Matthew and his tour guests have experienced touches, tugs on clothing, and disembodied voices.
During his investigations, Matthew has recorded numerous instances of ghostly voices and, in one dramatic encounter, the so-called “singing nurse”. He played a number of these recordings for us. Although the noise of the ship’s ventilation systems rises to a roar on recordings turned up to high volume and, annoyingly, spirits seem to prefer to whisper rather than speak clearly, I could hear something on each example he played. I couldn’t swear they were voices, but they did make my neck hair prickle.
The next part of our tour was led by the distinguished and soft-spoken Commodore Everette Hoard. The Commodore2, who has loved the vessel and been part of its history for almost four decades, took us to cabin B340, the most haunted place on the ship. For years, passengers would awaken to find ghostly figures at their bedside; staff would make up the beds only to find them in complete disarray moments later.
Many visitors, including the Commodore himself, experience vertigo when they step into B340. The cabin became so notorious for its paranormal phenomena that it was left unoccupied for years. “I wouldn’t spend a night in here,” the Commodore assured us.3
Our final tour guide, Daniel, showed us to the ship’s pool (unfortunately we couldn’t go inside) where the ghostly wet footprints appear. He regaled us with the story of the eight-year-old ghost known affectionately as “Jackie”, who is often seen with arms upraised, as if asking to be picked up and held. The nearby stairway, steepest on the ship, is said to have proved fatal to a number of passengers who lost their footing and tumbled down it during rough weather.
As a grand finale, Daniel led us along a blood-spattered kitchen hallway lined with grisly relics including animal and human heads and limbs, hopefully all fake, to the very apex of the ship’s bow, whose converging steel plates so murderously ended the lives of most of the Curacoa’s crew.
Is it all true? Is this majestic liner the hotbed of paranormal activity so many claim it to be?
I’m certain at least some of the phenomena are real. Although I didn’t directly experience anything worse than a sense of imbalance and the occasional eldritch shiver, the history of the vessel and the sincerity of people like Commodore Hoard alone are enough to convince me.
And if any of you spend a night in cabin B340, drop me a line and let me know how you slept.
1 Called the “safe room” because none of its walls contacts any part of the ship, thus isolating it in case of emergencies
2 The title is an honorary one bestowed after long service
3 Readers will be delighted to know that B340 has been entirely refurnished and is now available to overnight guests: bring $599 and nerves of steel.
Dario Ciriello is a professional author and editor, and the founder (2009) of Panverse Publishing.
Dario’s first novel, “Sutherland’s Rules”, a crime caper/thriller with a shimmer of the fantastic, was published in 2013. “Free Verse and Other Stories”, a collection of his short Science Fiction work, was released in June 2014.
His 2015 novel, the supernatural suspense thriller titled “Black Easter”, pits love against black magic and demonic possession on a remote, idyllic Greek island. Dario is currently at work on a new thriller.
Dario’s nonfiction book, “Aegean Dream”, the bittersweet memoir of a year spent on the small Greek island of Skópelos (the real “Mamma Mia!” island), was an Amazon category #1 for several months in 2012. “Drown the Cat: the Rebel Author’s Guide to Writing Beyond the Rules” (2017) is his second nonfiction work.
In addition to writing, Dario, who currently lives in the Los Angeles area, offers professional editing, copyediting, and coaching services to indie authors. You can find these on his blog menu at www.dariospeaks.wordpress.com